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January 14, 2014

Chili for charity: 26th Chili Challenge seeks volunteers, auction items

Nine challengers registered with 23 slots available

— One of the biggest fundraisers in the county is several weeks away but cooking stations are filling up fast.

The Hospice of Limestone County 26th Chili Challenge benefiting the nonprofit agency and Camp Hope has already registered nine challengers.

Returnees include defending champions Kim Todd and Shannon Elliott of Fashion, Friends and Fun, which is sponsored by Todd’s clothing-line business, CAbi Chili.

The longtime best friends ladled up more than five gallons of chili last year with a recipe described by Todd as “good, old-fashioned chili made with lots of good ingredients” and handed down by Elliott’s grandmother.

Their concoction claimed top honors in the Best Individual and People’s Choice categories. Prizes are also given for Best Group chili and Best Booth Design.

“It’s a family-oriented event because there is something for everyone, and it means a lot because Hospice has helped both of our families,” Elliott said.

This year’s cook-off will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 22 at Athens High School. Events include free chili samples and lunch, plus children’s activities, a bake sale and a nine-category silent auction ending at 1:30 p.m.

Admission is $10 at the door and advance tickets at the same price are available through chili challengers, Hospice board members and Hospice employees.

Amanda Speegle, chair of the Chili Challenge committee, said booth locations are on a first-come, first-served basis, with only 23 slots remaining. There is no charge to enter the competition.

“The sooner challengers get in, the sooner they can choose a booth,” Speegle said. “It’s a very big event and we’re proud of that. This is Hospice’s only fundraiser and really relies on the Chili Challenge.”

About $50,000 is raised each year through ticket sales, the silent auction and donations from the event, according to Hospice Executive Director Pat King.

Speegle and King said the greatest need for this year’s event is for volunteers and silent auction items, which can be brought to the Hospice office at 405 S. Marion St., or picked up by calling 256-232-5017.

One of the showpiece items already donated for this year’s silent auction is a handcrafted wooden steamer trunk with brass trimmings from Athens resident Danny Black.

Hospice provides support services for families dealing with the death of a loved one. Camp Hope is a bereavement program assisting about 60 children each year.

“Hospice of Limestone County is such an important organization,” Speegle said. “They serve so many people and their families. If you haven’t had to use Hospice’s services yet, you most likely will some day.”

For more information, contact Speegle at awspeegle@bellsouth.net or visit the event’s Facebook page: Hospice of Limestone County Chili Challenge.

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